Blog: Building and motivating a cross-cultural team

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Building and motivating a cross-cultural team

How can leaders remedy the challenges that come with building and leading a cross-cultural team?
Building and motivating a cross-cultural team

Globalization has indeed rendered the world flat. Industries, companies, and workforces across geographies are increasingly converging for one common shared purpose. In today’s business environment, cross-cultural teams are no longer the exception, but the norm. While building and managing multicultural teams is an exciting proposition for global firms, they face several challenges in ensuring these teams are successful as it requires additional investment, time, and attention. 

Dealing with cultural differences, language barriers, diverse work cultures, different personalities, and even remotely-located team members are some of the common issues faced by the human resource departments of these firms. In order to ably support cross-cultural teams, organizations need to ensure that each and every member of the team is the right choice for a particular project and that all the members in the team can work in unison for successful fruition of the company’s global vision. Here are some ways in which organizations can help motivate and strengthen cross-cultural teams:

Choose the right employee

Setting up a cross-cultural team is an expensive and resource-intensive process. Companies have to invest a substantial amount in bringing together the best talent pool for overseas assignments. So, choosing the right employee is essential. Personalities that are extroverted, social, and open to new life experiences make better candidates that those that are shy and introverted. A team member who can fluidly mingle with other multicultural members can be integral to the team’s success. 

Social activities to break the ice 

Remember to make each team member feel comfortable in his/her new surroundings and also with their colleagues. Team building is all about creating an informal work environment so that members can break the ice outside the ambit of their workplace. Organize games, picnics or off-sites, so teams can unwind and let their hair down. Employees from different parts of the world could put together theme-based parties/activities that will help others understand their cultures better. This will create a more open, refreshing, and conducive work environment.  

Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

When you work within a culturally diverse team, one thing can hold multiple meanings for different employees with different nationalities and cultures. This could lead to a host of misunderstandings and misrepresentations. Communication, therefore, becomes sacrosanct. There might be instances when you’ve given instructions that haven’t been understood by your team members because of language or other barriers. Make sure you create an open environment that allows everyone to ask questions and repeatedly clarify their doubts. Speak slowly and clearly when you address members of your team, and don’t let members leave till they’ve understood everything clearly. 

Acknowledge and respect cultural differences

Cultural diversity is an excellent teacher of humanity. Acknowledging and respecting a team member’s background, religious sentiment, culture and ideas determine how successful your team turns out. Allow your team members to communicate important cultural and religious norms so that you are aware of things that are important to them and their culture. Learn about festivals or other important days in their calendar and communicate the same to others. Celebrate these together so that they feel at home in a new country and environment. Remember, a happy employee is a productive employee, irrespective of which part of the world they come from. 

Go the extra mile

A multicultural team is like a new-born baby; it needs extra investment, extra time, and extra attention. So, you have to go that extra mile to nurture it. Remember that little gestures matter the most to members of a cross-cultural team. Make each member feel comfortable, welcomed, and wanted. Be available to them as a mentor, friend, and guide when they are struggling with issues not related to work, like, finding new homes, restaurants serving their native cuisine, etc. Learning from team members that come from different parts of the world and collaborating with them leads to greater creativity and innovation. 

To guarantee the accomplishment of your multicultural team, you should progress with consideration and thoughtfulness, where each and every one in the team feels esteemed and connected to the mission, vision, and strategy. Going ahead, managing cross-cultural teams on the global marketplace will be an increasingly significant skill. Developing sensitivity to local customs and priorities can help managers unite their teams better, regardless of how many miles there are between them. If managed effectively, cross-cultural teams can bring unparalleled innovation and distinctive insights into new issues and can deliver better results than homogeneous teams. 

Topics: #GuestArticle, Culture

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